Apartheid was a system of racial segregation that was enforced in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. Under apartheid, non-white South Africans were segregated from white South Africans and were denied many of their basic rights.
Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has made great strides in overcoming its racist past. However, racism is still a problem in South Africa, and some believe that the country has not done enough to address the issue. There has been a recent wave of xenophobic violence in South Africa, which has targeted immigrants from other African countries. This violence is a reminder that South Africa still has a long way to go in overcoming its racist past.
Apartheid is the legal separation of races established in the Republic of South Africa. During the 19th century, when gold and diamonds were discovered in South Africa, racially separated compounds for mine laborers became the forefathers of apartheid (Kanfer 79). De facto apartheid was prevalent by the 1920s in South Africa (79). Apartheid was fought against for many years before now being a crucial element in life in South Africa.
South Africa is a country that is rich in culture and natural resources. South Africa is the only African country with a first world economy (Boehm 139). South Africa also has the largest number of HIV positive citizens in the world, which has lead to South Africans being some of the most sick people on earth (Boehm 140).
Apartheid was ended in South Africa in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected president in the country’s first free elections. However, the effects of apartheid are still felt today. Racism is still a major problem in South Africa, as evidenced by recent race riots. The socioeconomic disparities between whites and blacks are also still very evident. Many blacks live in poverty, while many whites enjoy a high standard of living. These disparities are slowly being addressed through programs like affirmative action, but it will take many years to completely close the gap.
As free Mandela approaches the end of his life, political leaders like him continue to fight for a multi-racial South Africa. Despite the fact that many individuals support pro-apartheid activities today, anti-apartheid resistance continues. The desire for a non-apartaid South Africa has now become a reality, despite the fact that it was obtained through bloody struggles and political ploys.
South Africa, during the years of 1948 to 1994, was a country that was split into many racial segregations. The white minority held most of the political power while the black majority were treated as inferior and were given limited rights. Apartheid, which means “separateness” in Afrikaans, was the official policy of racial segregation that was enforced by the South African National Party government.
This system prevented people of color from having any say in their government or receiving education, housing, and medical care that were on par with those of whites. In order to establish and maintain apartheid, the South African government passed a series of laws that institutionalized racism.
The Population Registration Act of 1950 required every South African citizen to be classified into one of three racial groups: white, black, or colored. The Coloured Affairs Act of 1951 created separate “townships” for people of color and restricted their movement within white areas. The Separate Representation of Voters Act of 1951 removed people of color from the common voters’ roll, which meant that they could not vote in national elections.
The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 set up “homelands” for black South Africans and reduced their citizenship in South Africa. The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 codified apartheid by segregating public facilities such as beaches, parks, libraries, toilets, and even benches.
Apartheid not only institutionalized racism, but also caused economic problems for South Africa. The international community began to impose sanctions against the South African government in an effort to end apartheid. In 1986, the United States imposed sanctions that forbid new investment in South Africa and ended South African participation in cultural and sporting events.
In response to these sanctions, the South African government began negotiations with anti-apartheid leaders such as Nelson Mandela. These negotiations led to the end of apartheid and the first multiracial elections in South Africa in 1994.
In 1991, the anti-apartheid movement’s political backing was perhaps at its peak. In February of 1991, former president F.W. de Klerk opened Parliament with a promise to legalize the violently anti-apartheid African National Congress and set Nelson Mandela free (56).
“By May 1994, the Freedom Charter read in Parliament by De Klerk had been signed into law. He asked that the remaining pillars of discrimination be repealed as soon and quickly as feasible.” (56) “He called on Parliament to repeal immediately the remaining pillars of discrimination that dictate where blacks can work and live” (56).
Unfortunately, the South African government did not act as quickly as many had hoped in repealing Apartheid laws and supporting the transition to a democratic society. According to an article by de Lange, “by the end of 1993 it was clear that the South African government was foot dragging on reform” (1).
This lack of action led to more protests and more violence. In March of 1992, white extremists opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in Boipatong, killing over 40 people (1). The South African government was also accused of being involved in a number of political assassinations during this time period.
The South African government’s lack of action on Apartheid reform led to increasing international pressure. In 1992, the United Nations Security Council voted to impose mandatory economic sanctions on South Africa in an attempt to force the government to speed up the reform process (1). The South African government did eventually repeal the remaining Apartheid laws in 1994 and held its first free and fair elections in April of that year, leading to Nelson Mandela becoming South Africa’s first black president.
Apartheid may have ended in South Africa over 20 years ago, but its effects are still felt today. According to de Lange, “the legacy of apartheid continues to haunt South Africa” (1). One of the biggest problems facing South Africa today is socioeconomic inequality. According to Statistics South Africa, the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, has actually increased since the end of Apartheid, rising from 0.63 in 1995 to 0.69 in 2015 (“Inequality in South Africa”).
This increase in inequality is due to a number of factors, including the continued concentration of wealth among white South Africans, who make up less than 10% of the population but own more than 70% of the country’s wealth (De Lange 1).
While socioeconomic inequality is perhaps the most visible legacy of Apartheid, there are other effects that are also still being felt today. The South African education system is still struggling to recover from the damage caused by Apartheid. According to an article by Mendelsohn and Roberts, “the South African schooling system remains one of the most unequal in the world” (1).
This inequality is due in part to the fact that, during Apartheid, black South Africans were deliberately given an inferior education in order to prevent them from challenging the government’s system of racial segregation. As a result, South Africa today faces a severe shortage of skilled workers.